The original Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, will play the Wizard in Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis' upcoming production of The Wizard Of Oz, July 14-20. Keeshan, a beloved television presence, is making his stage debut in the role of "The Great Oz," who's actually just a befuddled little man behind a curtain.
The Muny Oz will have a number of familiar faces, because many of the cast-members are the same as in the recent Wizard Of Oz at New York's Madison Square Garden. According to the Muny publicity office, however, this staging is not a national tour of the NY mounting but a homegrown production that just happens to star Ken Page and Lara Teeter as, respectively, the Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow. According to Associate Producer David Ries, the version used is by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, "the RSC adaptation sent out by Tams Witmark," which uses the Harold Arlen/ E.Y. Harburg score from the famous 1939 film version.
Also starring in the Muny Oz are Marilyn Sokol (Guilt Without Sex, Shlemiel The First) as the Wicked Witch; and Natalie DeLucia (Muny's 1994 Annie) as Dorothy, who gets to warble "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." John Sloman (Big, Whoopee!) plays the Tinman.
Other Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs in the musical, which is based on L. Frank Baum's stories, include "Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead" and "If I Only Had A Brain."
As a special promotion, the Muny will transform its front lawn, July 14 (7-8 PM) into a "Munchkin Party." For tickets and information on The Wizard Of Oz and the remaining Muny season (including A Chorus Line, July 21-27; South Pacific , July 28-Aug. 3, and Hello, Dolly!, Aug. 4-10) call (314) 534 1111. Bruce Adler and Nancy Ringham will appear in South Pacific; Gretchen Wyler will star as Dolly. The Muny's latest show, Three Coins In The Fountain, opens July 7.
--By David Lefkowitz